Motivation issues

Hello dear forum,

I need your advice. I have a motivation problem and I’m out of ideas.

My problem is that I can’t find any challenges that still excite me. When you enter the MTP, the first exercise is to find your Mt. Sufferlandria. I’ve defined a few Mt. Sufferlandrias in the past few years, but none of them have triggered this feeling that I’m a little scared of it or that this goal would actually excite me.
I’ve been cycling for many years, training #IWBMATTKYT for years, and accomplished many things: Everesting? Done in 2012. 24-hour race? Check. Long distance? Several times. Podium? Yes. Marathons? Some. Stage races through the Alps? Done. KoS? Twice.

And no matter what goal I’ve set in recent years, it no longer excites me. At least not in the way that it would have to excite me to be completely consistent with the plan. And even the goal of simply sticking to the plan is regularly thwarted by life, by reality.

Don’t get me wrong: I still love riding my bikes, indoors and out.

So to those of you who have already achieved everything: how do you motivate yourselves?

Greetings, suffer on!
Sir Patrick

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You say you have a motivation problem, yet you still love riding your bicycle both indoors and out. What it is that you want to be motivated to do? For what reason do you need a challenge ?

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Because a purposeful Mt. Sufferlandria makes you train more consistent, makes you do your yoga more often, skip fast food and add the extra nap more often then „just“ riding for fun?
At least that’s the case with me :wink:

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A couple ideas:

new roads/routes/hills never run/ridden before even if it means a bit of a drive or travel to get there

I read somewhere about a challenge to run/ride every street in your city, wherever that may be.

You mentioned Everesting in 2012. How about a run Everest? A Gravel one? An urban one? Etc

Is there a place you’ve dreamed of riding that, if you can afford it and if travel allows, you can plan to ride and train toward that?

I feel you on wanting something BIG to propel your training but at the end of the day, if you still love riding, just ride. Maybe a challenge could be to ride without data for a month or longer.

Whatever you land on, I wish you good luck Sir!

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Great question …… and very relatable across a lot of things in life … sometimes the goals aren’t the same stretch as we’ve ‘done it’

Applied to cycling - obvs it’s down to the individual ….
Suggestion 1: have you got a ‘training chum’ kicking around that does the same as you that you maybe are not as quick as? Sometimes a simple goal of holding on a bit longer can help so that one feels like ones chum isn’t being held back
2: grab another person and do a plan with them. Sometimes the impetus comes from not wanting to let someone else down and it tips us over the edge in to training mode when otherwise life might win out.
3: what’s you favourite outdoor biking? MTB downhill? Enduro? XC? or road etc (the list is endless). Any times to chase MTB’ing? Just to k is you can beat yourself, or some other ‘mark’ (eg I raced the Fort William DH one year to see if I could get down in a given time and that had me doing all sorts of DH stuff for the year up to it and completely changed my riding as a result.

Ask yourself one question (no need to reply to this here). what truly gives you the best feeling on whatever bike you ride?
Then ask yourself that question at least three more times until you get to the root of what it is, with no holding back - right to the core of it - not what you think should be the right answer ……
Ok, I stop writing now. Happy to do the last bit offline if you ever want to. Whether it’s cycling or any other activity/thing, there is a method.

And I hope this comes across in the spirit intended. I worry about these kind of replies sometimes (ott or whatever)

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Been there, though not that I’ve exhausted the challenges that I could do. More so that mere achievements come up empty. Something more meaningful or lasting, whatever that might be.

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I can definitely say I’ve had this problem. I can’t say I really have an answer.

I was a runner and was building up to bigger and tougher running challenges. 5k, 10k, half marathon, trying to improve my half marathon time, ran half marathons on back-to-back days. Then moved on to do a Tough Mudder. Each was easy to be motivated to train for because I was always always reaching for something I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to do which gave me all the motivation I needed to get my training done.

I hurt my back many eons ago and it always would flare up during training. At first I was really good at doing my back and core strength work which would keep my back in check - for the most part. But as I got into bigger challenges my strength work wouldn’t be enough and my back would still go out every 2-3 months. It eventually got so I missed out on at least one race and had to take 2 other races really easy. I had hit all my goals and now my back wasn’t cooperating. That blew all of my motivation out the window.

Getting to bed in time to wake up at 4:30am to run 5 or more miles and still be home in time to shower, eat, and make it to work on time is not easy. So, when the challenge of new races and motivation is gone, waking up early is almost impossible. I got really out of shape. Gained 20 pounds. Was starting to adjust to the new normal.

Then I got my bike from my dad when his disease progressed far enough that he couldn’t ride it. I started to ride and eventually decided to try my hand at triathlon. The combination of biking and running and swimming helped get me back in shape and also helped both strengthen my back, and also kept me from overdoing the running which was hardest on my back.

I did a season of triathlon and fell in love with it. My back and body were the strongest and healthiest they’ve ever been since high school. 2020 was going to be my second season of triathlon. My back was able to stay fully healthy enough for me to train for and run my first full marathon without my back going out. I was ready to increase my triathlon distances and was about to do my first Olympic distance and could now foresee a 70.3 in the next year and a full 140.6 in the next year or two.

Then covid hit. I switched to virtual duathlons and then transitioned into The Sufferfest and doing primarily cycling with sporadic running. I did a metric century, a full century, and my KOS quest.

Now what?

My son is at-risk and my kids are too young to be vaccinated, and people in our area are not helpful with getting vaccinated or wearing masks to protect others. It’s also summer in Las Vegas. So we’re all still stuck in the house to protect him - and the rest of the summer because it’s ungodly hot outside. My triathlon goals are all shelved indefinitely. I can only complete indoor challenges. Maybe I can do a vEveresting. Or maybe I can do a second KOS. But, it feels like I’ve done those before. It’s all just seeing how long I can ride on my indoor trainer until I can’t take it anymore. I’ve done a KOS, so what do I have left to prove? A vEveresting would just be more of the same.

But I still enjoy riding.

So I really feel what you’re saying. I’m grasping for my own motivation, too. I still ride, but I don’t wake up as early. I let myself sleep in more often. Because I don’t have any events or goals that I’m reaching for. I’m not “scared” that I’m going to not be trained up enough.

Since I’ve only had a smart trainer for about 10 months, and never had a power meter other than the power on the smart trainer, my current goal is to see how much I can improve my FTP and other 4DP numbers. It helps some, but it’s not the end-all-to-be-all type of motivation. It’s just me hoping to improve myself so that some day when we’re out of this self-imposed isolation we’re doing to protect our son and our kids that I’ll be in good shape to nail those other goals that I’ve indefinitely shelved. Or if those never happen, at least I’m keeping myself healthy and I can fit into my KOS jersey to show off every time someone has a KOS quest and wants others to ride-along.

So, my health is all I’ve got at the moment. Because ultimately, like my dad used to tell me, the reason we ride a bike is so that we’ll look good while riding a bike.

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I think you have answered your own question there @Sir_Patrick_KoS . You still love indoors and outdoors cycling and, at the end of the day, that is what it is all about.

My motivation now comes from riding with good friends and the post-ride socializing - the training allows me to be the strongest cyclist I can but the days of constantly trying to improve FTP, etc. started to put me in a funk particularly as it became harder to hit goals. While it is great to have goals to look to achieve sometimes the simplest pleasures are the best. Riding with good company and enjoying the social aspect makes me want to work harder and get stronger.

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I have trouble when I notice a recovery week in the plan, I switch off and do not want to do anything. Of course recovery is a challenge as well as riding hard, but it still flicks my switch to off. I imagine getting on a train to some remote place and cycling home, planning the route , logistics , food and so on. This really enthuses me to carry on getting ever fitter, happy suffering folks

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If you’ve done it all then there’s nothing more to do. Put your focus into something completely different like learning classical guitar, getting out on your bike for a break and enjoying the outdoors. Soon enough a kid will pass you doing wheelies or a mother heavily laden with the weekly groceries will. If that doesn’t motivate you then stick to learning music…
It worked for me…:kissing_heart:

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There’s really good ideas in this thread. If simply you’re looking for something new to take on, the idea of 'burbing is an interesting one - it may not inspire you to train harder or hit new PBs but it’s a fun and different challenge

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It’s not just about achieving a goal. For me it’s also about development and maintenance. I use Sufferland to develop or maintain my fitness. If I don’t have a goal in mind, I will also lose the motivation to maintain my development and fitness. Sometimes I don’t feel like indoor cycling, then I go cycling outside… Sometimes I feel like watching a movie, then I go Mt. Sufferlandria to still be able to cycle. Sometimes I don’t do anything… Yet I stay motivated.

It is also not about what you have achieved in the past. That’s history. It’s about what do you want in the present in the future.
I set future goals to achieve, not goals that have been achieved.

sometimes a plan is thwarted by reality. With a goal you automatically get the focus back on the plan. If you continue to deviate from your plan, your goal is not strong enough.

A good plan includes taking into account a margin of reality, time management and risks.

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There are a lot of great suggestions in this thread that tend toward ‘more goals’. My first reaction was to look at bike packing as a new goal because that worked for me. Got a gravel bike and bags and it’s a great experience with goal setting included.

After reading the thread though, I’d suggest this is like coming about in a sailboat. Rather than tacking into the wind again at another angle, why not try not having a goal and just drift with the wind? When I’m not motivated this has worked for me to find motivation, though it’s really scary to me. Weight goes up, new bad habits form, but something in me reignites and then, there it is. Not will to keep going, but the real desire to head back into the wind.

Another easer and much less threatening suggesting is to to meditating. About 15 minutes a day to not focus, but to drift with your feelings might do something. I use an app called 10% Better, but the more popular one is Headspace (I think). The apps tell you what to do, think, reconceptualize. At a few sessions a week, it takes months to really see an impact if not a year. It’s a great way to calm a mind.

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Hi @Sir_Patrick_KoS , thankyou for a really thought provoking thread. at first glance the title appears pretty banal (oh here’s another person who can’t get out of couchlandria). But… well. Obviously not.

I remember several years ago when I first joined a gym, and had the good fortune to stumble across a good personal trainer. She asked me “what’s your goal, why are you doing this?”. I didn’t have one, other than generic “get stronger / fitter / lose weight”. I didn’t have goals like “lift XX Kg” or “do 27 chinups”. Fundamentally, I was doing it because I love the feeling of being physically active, so that’s what I told her. She found it a little frustrating that I wouldn’t put a number on various things, but came around because I was super consistent, kept at it - enjoyed it, and improved.

My cycling is the same. Fundamentally, I ride because I love it. I love the physical sensation of your body working, the hum of the tyres, the rhythm of your legs and breathing and pushing through that burning. It also offers me some rare time where my thoughts quieten down. It’s akin to meditation - I have to be present - because if I’m not, I’m going to crash. Your mind inevitably drifts off occasionally, thinking about work / life stresses, but it has to keep coming back to now. Stroke stroke breathe stroke stroke breathe shift gear stroke stroke breathe.

I have ended up picking goals, but tbh they’re really a side show. For example right now one of my goals is to get to 400W FTP. Why? Because it sounds ridiculously freaking hard!!! I don’t know if my body will take me there, but it has given me something to focus on to keep punishing myself, trying to get there. This year I’ve had to juggle a bit of minor injury & illness. Consequently I dropped off from 339 → 280, which came with a corresponding drop in motivation, feeling crap and all the rest. I’ve just gotten back to that level again now… and that feels good.

What will I do after 400? No idea. Pick another ridiculous goal? I haven’t done most of the things you’ve ticked off, so maybe I’ll have to borrow from that list :wink:

One last thought is - what about helping others get motivated, helping them identify and work towards goals? It won’t tick the box of helping you reach the next physical plateau, but it would hopefully be rewarding seeing others progress on that journey. That might address some of the mental edge.

Whatever the magic ends up being, good luck and good planning!

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How about doing an ultra-distance unsupported race like The Transcontinental or Trans Am? There are some great suggestions in this thread - hope you find something that inspires you!

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When I have an ‘off’ year, and can’t think of what to go for, I head to my VeloViewer profile, and try increase my square and/or cluster stats.
If you’re on Strava, VeloViewer will add an extra layer of stats for a modest annual fee. My favourite feature is a map broken down into roughly 2mile squares, where each one gets ‘ticked off’ as you ride through it. The aim is to get the largest contiguous coverage of squares. See here for an example.
Increasing this forces you to ride to new areas and explore. It’s a simple, but effective, way of ensuring you enjoy yourself while adding a little competitive edge to the process.

If your greater goal is to stay on the bike, and you use lesser goals like KoS or Everesting to achieve your greater goal, consider finding entirely different reasons to achieve the greater goal. Maybe put a nice camera in your pannier and ride around looking for that perfect shot. Maybe put together a cargo rig and deliver groceries to disabled &/or elderly people. Maybe train up for an adventure tour like battlefields of WWI or wineries of California.

If your greater goal is to stay fit, perhaps it’s time to hang up the bike for awhile. Maybe put that time into lifting, or learning a martial art, or playing ultimate frisbee. The world is yours.

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Dear people of SUF,
the whole week I have read your answers kinda on the fly and exactly that has shown me very clearly where my problems are. I wanted to read them carefully, but failed. Today, Sunday, (and due to a magnificent hangover) was the first day it was possible.

Mo - Fr. I get up at 4.45. For weeks now between 10 - 12 hours work incl 2 hours commute. Done and dusted at the end of the day.

What I miss most due to that Covid shit: racing.

So today I decided that of tomorrow I´ll work one hour less, every day.

And since I also want to do something new, I put the focus on running and have resolved to improve my 2014 PB in the half marathon by 3 sec and to run a 1:39:59 at my favorite race in autumn 2022.

So a huge ‘thank you’ for all the thoughts, suggestions and really good ideas. Nice to see that People of Sufferlandria can always be relied upon…

Have a great week,
Patrick

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